September 28 is the birthday of Thomas Crapper (1836-1910), a plumber who founded Thomas Crapper & Co in London. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. He did, however, do much to increase the popularity of the toilet, and developed some important related inventions. One of his inventions was the ballcock, the mechanism for filling water tanks while avoiding overflow (in the event of low water pressure) and backflow. He was noted for the quality of his products and received several royal warrants.

Manhole covers with Crapper’s company’s name on them in Westminster Abbey are now one of London’s minor tourist attractions. Thomas Crapper & Co owned the world’s first bath, toilet and sink showroom, in King’s Road until 1966. The firm’s lavatorial equipment was manufactured at premises in nearby Marlborough Road (now Draycott Avenue).

Crapper was born in Thorne, Yorkshire, in 1836; the exact date is unknown, but he was baptized on this day in 1836. His father, Charles, was a sailor. In 1853 he was apprenticed to his brother George, who was a master plumber in Chelsea. After his apprenticeship and three years as a journeyman plumber, in 1861 Crapper set himself up as a sanitary engineer, with his own brass foundry and workshops in nearby Marlborough Road.

It’s interesting to note that the flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596. Joseph Bramah of Yorkshire patented the first practical water closet in England in 1778. George Jennings in 1852 also took out a patent for the flush-out toilet. In a time when bathroom fixtures were barely spoken of, Crapper heavily promoted sanitary plumbing and pioneered the concept of the bathroom fittings showroom.

In the 1880s, Prince Edward (later Edward VII) purchased his country seat of Sandringham House in Norfolk and asked Thomas Crapper & Co. to supply the plumbing, including thirty lavatories with cedarwood seats and enclosures, thus giving Crapper his first Royal Warrant. The firm received further warrants from Edward as king and from George V both as Prince of Wales and as king.

In 1904, Crapper retired, passing the firm to his nephew George and his business partner Robert Marr Wharam.

Modern plumbing owes a lot to Thomas Crapper. Join us as your Phoenix plumber to celebrate him and his contribution. Should you need any plumbing help today or any day all around the Phoenix valley, we’re here to help. (602) 273-1740